Thursday, April 21, 2011

EXQUISITE INDEED



I've been dipping in and out of Jessica Kerwin Jenkins's Encyclopedia of the Exquisite, An Anecdotal History of Elegant Delights (Doubleday), since my husband bought it for me a couple of
months ago - it's delicious in name and nature.

This morning, as I ate porridge with brown sugar - a leisurely breakfast for
once - I read Jessica's musings on the history of the glove. I love this
because I've just written a whole chapter about gloves for my new book - but
I knew barely any of the fabulous facts Jessica knows. That, for instance,
"striking a medieval knight with a glove was an invitation to brawl" and
"the rich gave their servants gloves with money inside", and Queen
Elizabeth I's admirers hoarded her gloves likes talismans - one guy
wore one of queenie's jewelled gloves affixed to his helmet, as if to
protect him in battle.

The softest gloves were most prized. Glovers used kid skin of course, but
who knew they used chicken skin too, and mouse skin?! Writes Jessica: "An 18th
Century French naturalist managed to succeed in making a pair [of gloves]
from woven spider's milk." Cripes! Make mine from velvet please. Actually sod
it, make them mittens. Not dainty, but cute, you've got to admit.

Anyway, Jessica, who used to European editor at W magazine, is a superb writer and her book is fab.

Happy Easter!

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